TWO months after the ill-fated Nigerian Navy Augusta helicopter air crash in Bayelsa State that claimed the lives of six persons including former Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State and former National Security Adviser, General Owoye Andrew Azazi, the Accident and Investigation Board (AIB) set up to investigate the crash has submitted its report.
According to a statement signed by Director of Naval Information, Commodore Kabiru Aliyu, the AIB constituted by the Nigerian Air Force at the instance of the Nigerian Navy to ascertain the cause of the fatal crash discovered that cause of the crash could either be human error or material failure or a combination of both.
It ruled out the possibility of sabotage as rumoured in some quarters' during the accident adding, however, that to get the actual cause of the crash, there would be need to tear down the engine of the helicopter for detailed forensic analysis.
The statement entitled, 'Update on the Crashed Nigerian Navy Augusta Helicopter NN07' reads: "The Accident Investigation Board (AIB) constituted by the Nigerian Air Force at the instance of the Nigerian Navy to ascertain the cause of the fatal crash involving the Nigerian Navy Agusta helicopter which occurred on December 15, 2012 has submitted an interim report to the Naval Headquarters.
"The Investigation which was conducted by aviation experts in collaboration with the manufacturers - Augusta Westland has stated that the cause of the crash could either be human error or material failure or a combination of both. However, to determine the actual cause of the crash there would be the need to tear down the engine of the helicopter in order to carry out detailed forensic analysis. This aspect of the investigation will be carried out by Turbomeca, the manufacturers of the engine".
Independent police report
"It is important to emphasize that an independent police report has equally ruled out sabotage as a possible cause of the crash. Further information on the investigation would be made public when available."
It would be recalled that shortly before the AIB was set up, the Nigerian Navy dispelled insinuations that the Augusta 105 helicopter which crashed in Okoloba community in Bayelsa state had engine problems, noting the helicopter was certified to fly by a 'Certified Technical Support Engineer'.
It said the helicopter 'had her last scheduled routine maintenance concluded on November 19, 2012 by certified technical support engineer' adding that "when the aircraft crashed, it was having more than 80 flight hours before the next scheduled routine maintenance."
While constituting the accident investigation board to unravel the remote and immediate causes of the unfortunate incident, the Navy said, "It will not want to pre-empt the findings of the investigation".
Membership of the board was drawn from aircraft investigation specialists, Augusta Westland, manufacturers of the aircraft and other aviation regulatory agencies as provided for by extant regulations. It said it expected that the board will come out with remote and immediate causes of the accident with far reaching recommendations that will forestall future occurrences.